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Letter: To adjust to climate change, we should err on side of caution
A wind turbine is silhouetted against the setting sun near King City, Mo. - photo by Associated Press

In response to the May 3 letter to The Times titled, “There are 2 sides in debate over global warming,” I’d like to propose a third option: “err on the side of caution.”

Facts can be spun and people are rightly skeptical in this day and time, so as a community, let’s look at all points of view on this issue. Plus, let’s simply look out the window.

I take into account what the 97 percent of climatologists are saying about global warming but do compare that to my own observations. Cool, fall weather is arriving four weeks later in the year. Bees have started buzzing around my yard now in winter. 

Last summer, planes couldn’t take off out west because of heat. The past two years have been the hottest in recorded history. Super-strength hurricanes, one passing through Atlanta last year, are causing record economic damage because warmer oceans provide them more energy. 

The letter pointed out that since the end of 2012, total polar ice has largely remained above the post-1979 average. That’s true as of 2016. A Google search on that brings up NASA’s website that states sea ice reached a record low at both the North and South Poles in March of 2017, one year ago. 

Another concrete example is Glacier National Park, dedicated in 1910 with 150 glaciers at the time. It is now down to 30 glaciers, one-third their original size. Events like that are happening all around the world.

Scientists have drilled Arctic ice core samples showing that carbon in the atmosphere fluctuated between 175-275 parts per million over the past 500,000 years. In 1960, it reached 317 ppm; 1980, 340 ppm; 2000, 370 ppm; and last year, 408 ppm. It is currently rising 2 ppm per year, paralleling the slow rise in global temperatures. Atmospheric carbon in gases such as CO2 and CH4 (methane) impedes heat from escaping the earth into space. 

Similarly, when you close the windows of your car to go into the store in the summer, the sun comes in but the heat can’t escape. The car becomes scorching hot.

The earth is like our family car taking us around the sun with no air conditioning except for the windows, which are slowly being cranked up. If steps are taken to reduce carbon emissions, the worst case is that we will get cleaner air and reduced noise pollution. Economically, solar panel installation is a top job and solar energy costs continue to drop. It’s hard to see a downside, especially here in the Sun Belt where we have this huge untapped natural resource. 

Global warming may not affect me in my lifetime, except for missing some cool weather in the fall or being hit by random hurricanes. None of us will be around in the year 2100 to find out if global warming is real but our grandchildren will be. Let’s err on the side of caution for them.

Shawna Anderson


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